Should Chase Edmonds be the Cardinals’ starting RB in 2021?

Should the Cardinals rely on Edmonds as their number one guy in their backfield for next season? He has definitely made a case for it. 

One of the most intriguing positions on the Arizona Cardinals that is still in question for their future is the running back room. Despite being second in the league in rushing yards this season, it seems as if the Cardinals are still trying to find their true long-term identity at the running back position. Rookie running back Eno Benjamin has yet to play in a game this season and hopes to make an impact on special teams. Kenyan Drake is currently playing under a transition tag and is the team’s leading rusher with 641 yards. However, he could be headed to free agency after this season and that leaves the Cardinals with their third leading rusher, Chase Edmonds, who has really started to make a case for himself being their starting-caliber running back for next season. Should the Cardinals rely on Edmonds as their number one guy in their backfield for next season? He has definitely made a case for it. 

Edmonds is everything the Cardinals look for in a running back and should definitely be in the conversation for the team’s top running back next season. Through week 11, he has 315 yards and a TD while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. However, through his last five games, Edmonds has averaged 6.5 yards per carry. He is also an efficient pass-catcher, something that Kenyan Drake has not been utilized as much in. Edmonds already has career high numbers in the passing game through 11 weeks, recording 297 yards and 3 touchdowns with an 85.7 catch percentage. He also has only dropped one pass this season while having a 2.4 drop rate percentage. Despite being a bit undersized, Edmonds currently has a 6.5 breakaway percentage, which is within the top ten in the NFL. Edmonds has certainly made a case for the starting job next season. Even though his stats don’t necessarily jump out, he has still put himself on the radar for having the conversation. 

Edmonds does not really have the stats that jump out at you. Even though he is putting up career-high numbers this season, those are not necessarily numbers that would solidify you the starting running back job next season. Kenyan Drake is also outperforming Edmonds this season, being ranked in the top 10 currently through week 11. This could veer the Cardinals towards either drafting a running back like Clemson running back Travis Etienne in the early rounds of the draft that can come in and compete for the starting job, or addressing the running back position in free agency, whether that be extending Kenyan Drake or finding someone else on the market.  Needless to say, the running back position is one of the bigger priorities for the Cardinals to address this offseason.  If they choose to draft one, Etienne would be a perfect fit.  However, if they choose to give Edmonds a shot at the starting job, Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell would be a nice complement to Edmonds.  

Chase Edmonds has made even more of a name for himself on the Cardinals offense since being drafted by them in 2018. Even though his stats do not show how talented he really is, Edmonds very well could be in the conversation for the starting running back position next season.  

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Why the Cardinals should bounce back against the Jets

Going into Week 5, the Arizona Cardinals travel to New York to face the Jets, one that could be a nice bounce-back game for the Cardinals.

We are four weeks into the NFL season and the Arizona Cardinals are starting to struggle early. They grabbed momentum early in the first two weeks of the season, including an impressive win against the San Francisco 49ers week one. However, the Cardinals have lost two straight against teams that many thought they should have beaten. 

Going into Week 5, the Cardinals travel to New York to face the Jets, one that could be a nice bounce-back game for the Cardinals, especially since the NFC West is the most competitive division right now. 

This team has struggled to keep guys healthy at key positions. The Jets are without starting quarterback Sam Darnold for this week’s matchup and will most likely not have receiver Breshad Perriman either. Joe Flacco will get the nod to start for the Jets this Sunday, who currently have the worst offense in the NFL, averaging just 278 yards per game. 

The Cardinals are at the top half of the league’s defensive rankings. They have given up over 1,400 yards through four games. However, even though the Cardinals’ pass defense struggles a bit more than their run defense, the Jets have a receiving corps depleted by injuries. They drafted Denzel Mims, a standout wide receiver from Baylor, who has been sidelined with hamstring injuries. The Cardinals’ secondary is the weakest part of their defense. Granted, they did lose Robert Alford for the season and have had key players injured like Budda Baker, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. The Cardinals’ secondary have a chance to put on an impressive showing against a Jets receiving core that does not have a whole lot of consistency led by Jamison Crowder. 

The Jets defense is among the bottom half of the league, giving up an average of 368.8 yards per game, according to ESPN. The Jets struggle immensely in the passing game, giving up 959 yards through the first four games. The Cardinals put up 224 passing yards against a healthy 49ers defense. Kyler Murray has a chance to have a field day against this Jets defense, who have struggled to contain players in the passing game.  Through the first four games of the season, the Cardinals have averaged 370.3 yards per game, according to ESPN.  DeAndre Hopkins has been nothing short of impressive in his first few games as a Cardinal and is continuing to show that he is one of if not THE best at his position.  Many wanted General Manager Steve Keim fired before the 2020 NFL Draft.  But, he has really started to prove himself with these past two offseasons.  From drafting Kyler Murray in 2019 to acquiring DeAndre Hopkins this past offseason, Keim has put the Cardinals on the map as a potential playoff team for the first time since 2015.  

The Arizona Cardinals are struggling early, coming off of two straight losses from the Lions and Panthers. However, this week’s matchup against the New York Jets is a perfect opportunity for them to have a bounce-back game, especially with a tough schedule ahead of them.  

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Leki Fotu is the Cardinals’ future elite run stopper

Fotu has tremendous upside and will be a fun player to watch grow and develop into the Cardinals’ defense as an elite run stopper.

The Arizona Cardinals made all the right moves this offseason in both free agency and the draft. One of the main areas of concern for them was their run defense, which ranked well below-average in 2019. However, the Cardinals made a huge addition by selecting Utah defensive tackle Leki Fotu in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, who has the talent to be an elite run stopper for the Arizona Cardinals.  You may not see an immediate impact from Fotu, as Jordan Phillips and Corey Peters are ahead of him.  He may be that exciting role player for Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to plug in on certain plays.  

Leki Fotu is a very unique type of player.  He was recruited by Utah as a standout rugby athlete and his highlights are not something to mess around with.

 

Fotu has already been impressing in training camp, and other players like Jordan Phillips have quickly taken notice.  Last week, Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brenton Buckner compared Fotu to Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Vita Vea, whom Buckner coached in 2018.  Fotu is another guy that will be able to create disruption for the Cardinals’ run defense, an area where Fotu is more polished in than the pass rush. He ran a 5.15-second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine, which was faster than Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown (5.16) and Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Benito Jones (5.26). Fotu also weighed in as the heaviest defensive lineman at the combine, according to NFL Draft. It is actually quite impressive how well he is able to move around given his size and how heavy he is. 

Fotu is another big-bodied player the Cardinals can plug in on their front defensive line. The 6-foot-5 and 335-pound tackle has played all around the interior defensive line, but he excels the most as a nose tackle. Fotu has a tremendous amount of upper body strength to create chaos in the run game. At Utah, it was quite easy for him to gain leverage right away because of his size. If you are lined up against him, he is one tough player to move. For his size and as heavy as he is, Fotu plays with a lot of power and explosiveness. 

Fotu has room to grow in areas like the passing game, where he currently lacks the quickness to be that effective pass rusher. However, given his size and athleticism, Fotu has tremendous upside and will be a fun player to watch grow and develop into the Cardinals’ defense as an elite run stopper for years to come.  

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Why Andy Isabella should have a bigger role in 2020 on offense

The perfect player that should not only win the job but take on a bigger role with the team is second-year wide receiver Andy Isabella.

The Arizona Cardinals had a busy offseason dealing with both transactions and opt-outs due to COVID-19 concerns. The biggest splash of the offseason was trading for Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. That gives Kyler Murray three lethal targets to throw to: Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk. However, that fourth wide receiver spot is wide open and the perfect player that should not only win the job but take on a bigger role with the team is second-year wide receiver Andy Isabella.
The 2019 NFL Draft class was loaded with impressive speed at the wide receiver position, including guys like Deebo Samuel, Paris Campbell and Andy Isabella. Isabella ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the combine and his speed is something that should not be overlooked. He is in the shadow of the other big three receivers. But, once he is used the right way, he could really be a key part of the Cardinals’ offense. Even though he is undersized, he has the talent to make people overlook that case. He is a crisp route runner and his hands have gotten better throughout the years. The one concern with Isabella is his blocking skills due to his size and body frame. Luckily, the Cardinals have two big-bodied receivers ahead of him. However, if he wants to be used in a bigger role as he should, that is something he will have to develop to improve his game.
Hakeem Butler had a lot of hype coming into the draft due to his breakout season in his last year at Iowa State and an impressive showing at the 2019 NFL Combine. Unlike Isabella, Butler exceeds in blocking, a trait that makes him stand out among the other young wide receivers on the Cardinals. Some even had Butler as first-round talent, but he fell all the way to the fourth. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine, which is astonishing for a player his size, who stands at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds. There is a lot of potential in him, but he is highly unproven as he went down with a major avulsion fracture that sidelined him for his rookie season.
The other major name is KeeSean Johnson, Who was the third receiver drafted by the Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson has shown sparks at times when he is given the opportunity. He also has impressive hands, posting a 4.8% drop rate, according to RotoWire. He is also another guy that has developed his route running skills, which impressed the Cardinals early. The biggest concern with Johnson is that his speed is not something that will jump out at you. It poses a question as to whether he can keep up with elite defenders like Richard Sherman twice a year or not.

Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson all have different weaknesses, but one is more proven than the others. With his speed, impressive route-running skills and reliability, Andy Isabella has made a case for that fourth wide receiver spot and an even bigger role with the Cardinals in 2020.

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Eno Benjamin could be the Cardinals’ gem of the draft

The future of the Cardinals running back position is in question, but Eno Benjamin might be their draft gem that will come in and compete.

The future of the running back position for the Arizona Cardinals is in question, as Kenyan Drake is playing this season on the one-year transition tag tender and Chase Edmonds has just two years left remaining on his rookie contract. However, seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin, a running back selected out of Arizona State, might just be the Cardinals’ gem of the draft. 

Benjamin was projected to get drafted as high as the third round, but he fell all the way to the seventh, giving him great value for the Cardinals. In three years for the Sun Devils, Benjamin racked up nearly 3,000 rushing yards with 27 touchdowns. He not only put on an impressive showing in the run game, but he was a reliable asset in the receiving game, recording over 600 yards and four touchdowns. These stats might not be impressive, but it shows just how capable Benjamin is in the passing game.  He is everything you want in an NFL running back. He could develop into a reliable asset in the passing game for the Cardinals. 

Eno Benjamin has the talent to not only come in and compete, but also be in the Cardinals backfield long-term. Even though receiver Brandon Aiyuk, drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers, was the top weapon for Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels, Benjamin played a crucial role in that offense. He was the heart and soul of that run game and was a leader for the Sun Devils offense. 

Now, with every rookie comes weaknesses and one of the biggest ones for Benjamin was his consistency in the passing game. This is an area where Benjamin will need the most grooming. To start, he is not the most diverse route runner. He needs to have more of an expanded route tree for the Cardinals to feel confident in using him in the passing game. 

Benjamin is also more of a chip blocker, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if he relies on that skill, he will have a tough time getting by with it in the NFL, as he might have to face guys like Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa twice a year. 

Unlike several running backs in this draft class, Benjamin’s 4.57 speed is not something that will wow you. He is not a running back that is tough to catch down the field. However, Benjamin’s shiftiness is a unique trait of his that should translate well into the NFL. 

Benjamin is also a bit undersized, standing at 5-foot-9 and 207 pounds. But that doesn’t seem to affect his game much, as he is still a powerhouse in the run game and will still make defenders pay.  

Isaiah Simmons might have been the Cardinals’ steal of the draft, but they are really getting something special in Eno Benjamin and for the future of their run game. He has all the tools and skillset to help the Cardinals succeed.  

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Report: Cardinals COO Ron Minegar to step down

He has been with the team in his position for 20 years.

The Arizona Cardinals will have an executive position to fill in the months to come. Executive vice president and chief operating officer Ron Minegar will leave the positions he has held for 20 years.

According to the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman, Minegar has informed the team he will step down in the spring.

Minegar joined the Cardinals in his role as EVP/COO in 2000 after leaving Disney Sports.

Minegar ran into legal troubles last year when he was arrested for a DUI in August. He was suspended by the team for six weeks and fined $200,000.

The team has not made any announcement about the decision. that will surely come when they make changes to replace him or reorganize things.

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4 of Cardinals’ 2020 opponents have new coaches

Another two were hired in 2019.

The Arizona Cardinals’ opponents for 2020 are set. But some of those teams they will play have new leadership. The Cardinals will face four teams with new coaches, while another two have coaches in their second year with the team.

They face the Miami Dolphins with Brian Flores in his second year. They face the New York Jets with Adam Gase entering his second year.

But four teams have brand new coaches. Three are from the NFC East.

Washington Redskins

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins hired a familiar face in Ron Rivera, who was let go by the Carolina Panthers, a team they will also face in 2020. The defense will have a new look, moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front. The Cardinals play the Redskins at home in 2020.

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Kyler Murray named Rookie of the Year finalist

The Cardinals rookie QB us one of five finalists. The winner of the award will be determined by fan vote.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had a fantastic rookie season. As a result, he has been named one of the five finalists for the league rookie of the year award.

The award will be decided by fan voting at NFL.com/rookies, so Cardinals fans and Oklahoma fans need to do their part.

The five finalists are:

  • Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
  • San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa
  • Tennessee Titans WR A.J. Brown
  • Oakland Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
  • Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders

Murray became only the second rookie in NFL history to have at least 3,500 passing yards and at least 500 rushing yards. He finished with 3,722 passing yards and 544 rushing yards.

He set several franchise rookie records for the Cardinals — starts, wins, completions, passing attempts, passing yards, passer rating and touchdown passes.

Voting for the award goes on until Monday, January 20 at 3:00 PM ET to determine the winner. The winner will be recognized in Miami during Super Bowl LIV festivities and online.

Now go vote for Kyler!

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Ep. 254

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Chandler Jones named First-Team All-Pro for 2nd time

He received the most votes of any edge defender. Safety Budda Baker also received votes.

The Associated Press announced the All-Pro team for 2019. The Arizona Cardinals had one player make the cut and, not surprisingly, it is pass rusher Chandler Jones.

Jones and Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt were the two edge defenders named to the first team.

Jones was second in the NFL with 19 sacks, trailing only Shaquil Barrett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He set a franchise record and twice had four sacks in a game, only the third player in NFL history to do so and the first to do it in 33 years. He also led the NFL with eight forced fumbles and seven strip-sacks.

Jones led edge defenders with 32 votes. Tampa Bay’s Barrett made the second team with 18 votes.

Jones also received two All-Pro votes at linebacker.

Jones was named defensive player of the week twice and defensive player of the month once.

Cardinals safety Budda Baker received four All-Pro votes at safety.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Stitcher Radio.

Ep. 254

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2019 Cardinals awards

Who get the superlatives for the Cardinals this year?

The Arizona Cardinals’ season is over. Some players will get league awards. But it is time to recognize the players who were the best. So let us see who gets the awards for the Cardinals.

MVP: Kyler Murray

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is an obvious award. Murray was given the reins of the team and he exceeded expectations. He was the team’s leader. He led them to wins. He was their best offensive player and most important player overall.

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